Auto-da-Fé – Elias Canetti

Auto-da-Fé was a book that I started reading with great excitement, especially since my book club highly recommended it. On the other hand, my expectations were high because Elias Canetti is one of the must-read authors of all times. Unfortunately, I was a little bored while reading Auto-da-Fé. I don’t know if I read it at the wrong age or the wrong time, but I had trouble turning the pages.


Auto-da-Fé - Elias Canetti

Although I thought the purpose of the author was to annoy the reader, I couldn’t keep up with it. The inexhaustible details and the depression throughout the pages me suffer after a while. I was able to finish it too late because I read it way too slowly.

Still, the characters were so great that each of them is still in my mind. However, this was not enough for me to talk about the book with praise. Nevertheless, I think that I could not appreciate the value of this book, and I will reread it years later. Did you read this?

Auto-da-Fé - Elios Canetti


Auto Da Fé is the story of Peter Kien, a distinguished, reclusive sinologist living in Germany between the wars. With masterly precision, Canetti reveals Kien’s character, displaying the flawed personal relationships which ultimately lead to his destruction.

Manipulated by his illiterate and grasping housekeeper, Therese, who has tricked him into marriage, and Benedikt Pfaff, a brutish concierge, Kien is forced out of his apartment – which houses his great library and one true passion – and into the underworld of the city. In this purgatory he is guided by a chess-playing dwarf of evil propensities, until he is eventually restored to his home. But on his return he is visited by his brother, an eminent psychiatrist who, by an error of diagnosis, precipitates the final crisis…

Auto Da Fé was first published in Germany in 1935 as Die Blendung (The Blinding or Bedazzlement) and later in Britain in 1947, where the publisher noted Canetti as a ‘writer of strongly individual genius, which may prove influential’, an observation borne out when the author was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981. Auto Da Fé still towers as one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, and Canetti’s incisive vision of an insular man battling against the outside world is as fresh and rewarding today as when first it appeared in print.

Elias Canetti

Elias Canetti was a German-language author, born in Ruse, Bulgaria to a merchant family. They moved to Manchester, England. But his father died in 1912, and his mother took her three sons back to the continent. They settled in Vienna. Canetti moved to England in 1938 after the Anschluss to escape Nazi persecution.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

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